Gina and I have made the difficult decision to sell BeauChamp Farm. We have fallen in love with our little beach cottage and community in Florida and have decided to make it our primary residence. If you wish to know more, I have detailed this personal journey and the reasons for the move in my latest book “The Loss of Belonging: Ten Steps To A New (and Better) Tribe”.
Here is a brief update.
Five years ago we embarked upon a wild adventure. It was far more extreme than we anticipated. We moved into the isolation of the Appalachian foothills to carve out a retreat—a place of solitude and rest for artists and ministers. We became pioneers in every sense of the word—clearing rough mountainous land that had not been tended in over four decades—living for months in a tiny, claustrophobic, well-loved 30 ft. RV.
To put this in perspective, I had never owned a drill or a tool of any kind before moving there. But for some reason, I knew I must build an artist cabin with my own hands, and so we did. The next twelve months were full of pain and extreme suffering. Gina (there are no words to express what an extraordinary and strong woman she is) and I toiled, wept, cursed, screamed, and on rare occasions, celebrated. We learned to live of—not on—the land.
And I began to heal. It was soon painfully obvious that artists and ministers were terrified of solitude and unwilling to get away from the busyness of doing—but for me, the solitude, isolation, travail, pain, and suffering provided a difficult but much-needed path to healing. A wonderful, beautiful, refreshing, cleansing, and peaceful restoration. An experience (I’m convinced) few people will ever know. But we are thankful to have lived it.
We built a stunning rustic but modern home and an additional artist cabin. We cleared thirteen acres for our home place, we built roads and fences and french drains on undulating terrain, we laid hardwood and tile floors and learned to build stacked stone walls and fireplaces, we blazed trails and cut and split firewood with our own hands. We grew delicious vegetables and herbs and harvested blackberries, black walnuts, hickory nuts, persimmons, and Bartlett pears from our land. We built stables and haylofts and rescued horses. We survived one of the worst winters on record in Smith County.
Throughout my life, the gifts and products I created for the church and artists were not understood (perhaps I am a terrible communicator) but ironically all of them have become a significant financial windfall, and unexpectedly they have been a tremendous investment for my entire being. The physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing I have experienced these past five years is worth more than all the money in the world. It is priceless.
And so, much like Thoreau, we are ready to rejoin civilization. Gina is a fourth-generation Floridian and I have lived most of my adult life in the Sunshine State. We have sand in our shoes. It is time for us to savor the second half of life as we live out lives of meaning and purpose in community. Gina grew very lonely during the last two years of isolation. Unlike me (who is happily a hermit) she needs what she calls “buzz” and the energy of people. And begrudgingly I must admit, it is a healthy thing for me as well—now that I have healed up.
You can find us wandering the isolated and pristine beaches of Honeymoon Island, sipping a pint and enjoying stimulating conversation at one of our many pubs and breweries, reading a book under a beach umbrella, riding our bicycles, exploring our quaint and whimsical downtown with our Morkie Remy in our golf cart, walking the Pinellas Trail, or painting and writing in my new (soon to be built by someone else!) artist studio. We also plan to volunteer as activists in causes important to us.
And we are contemplating a Kalien retreat cabin near Highlands or Cashiers, North Carolina. But it could be anywhere. Stay tuned. One of the huge surprises of Kalien was even though we could not get artists or ministers to accept scholarships and free stays—through Airbnb, we were able to rent it and the people that joined us as paid guests from around the world discovered the healing, restoration, and solitude that we had intended for others all along. I will treasure the scores of handwritten and heartfelt entries in the pages of the Kalien Guest book for the rest of my life.
Until the farm sells, the cabin and our farmhouse are available for stays on Airbnb, and I will occasionally lead experiences such as Quest. And yes, scholarships are still available for artists and ministers. All you need do is ask.